autoevolution

2021 Audi e-tron Sportback Review

BODY TYPE: SUV
In the last months of 2018, Audi introduced its first truly electric car, a 5-door SUV confusingly called e-tron. The car enjoys moderate success on the markets it sells in, but this isn’t stopping the carmaker from launching a new variant of the model in the fall of 2019.
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Called e-tron Sportback, the new member of the family is a coupe-styled SUV meant to appeal to a wider range of customers. 

Aside from the change in body style, which also results in some gains when it comes to aerodynamics and range, the new interpretation of the electric SUV is literally the same as the regular body-styled one.

1Exterior design & features

Aside from the obvious change in shape, there are only minor visual upgrades made to the Sportback compared to the regular SUV., like the largely enclosed Singleframe with vertical struts. The new e-tron is 4,901 mm long, 1,935 mm wide, and 1,616 mm high, but is shaped in such a way that it’s drag coefficient was measured to be 0.25.

The most striking feature of the new SUV coupe is the use of the digital matrix LED headlights, made available, says Audi, for the first time in a mass-production vehicle. In the daytime running lights, the specific e-tron signature is present. 

The coupe is offered in thirteen paint finishes, including an exclusive one called plasma blue that will be extensively used on the Edition One version available at sales start. 

The top of the range e-tron Sportback is of course the S line model, which uses more contoured bumpers, reshaped air curtains, and the spoiler fitted as standard, but other styling packages are available as well. 

The virtual exterior mirrors - in facts small cameras – that are one of the best features of the car will only be offered optionally. 

Another thing setting this variant apart from the available e-tron are the wheels, which comes in size up to 22 inches, one inch more than before.

2Interior design, features
and passenger space

Because it is a coupe, meaning the roof closes in on the rest of the body at the rear, the biggest concern for the carmaker was that the Sportback would not come with sufficient space for passengers. That’s not the case, it seems, as headroom in the rear is measured at 20 mm less than in the conventional-styled car. 

The trunk and the frunk provide a total of 615 liters of cargo space, but that can be increased even further when the rear seats are folded, to a total of 1,655 liters.

As for what the driver and passengers feel inside the Sportback, that’s pretty much the same as in the SUV: free-floating displays, an instrument panel angled toward the driver, and four types of seats to choose from: standard, sport, S sport, and contour. All of them are wrapped in materials with contour stitching reminiscent of electric circuits.

3Gadgets

The tech that stands out the most in the e-tron Sportback is the use of digital matrix LED headlights. Offered as top of the range equipment, they're basically smart lights that can “generate dynamic leaving- and coming-home animations” or provide lane and orientation light.

That pretty much means you can use the car as a projector to display things on walls or on the ground, but it can also steer the driver visually on the right path. 

The other optional highlight, the camera exterior mirrors, are used to improve the car’s aerodynamics and thus range. They come as wing-shaped supports for cameras, whose images are sent on high-contrast OLED displays fitted in the transition between the instrument panel and the door. 

For screens, the Sportback uses a 12.1-inch one located high up - infotainment, telephony, navigation, and settings - and another one, sized 8.6-inch, beneath it - convenience functions and climate control. Additionally, there’s the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit that is also available. 

The e-tron Sportback sells with Google Earth navigation, route planner, hybrid radio, Alexa, and Car-to-X services.

4Performance

The technical bits of the Sportback are the same as in the SUV, albeit there are tiny differences in range because of the shape of the car. There are two versions of the car on the table, namely the 50 and 55, both in quattro configuration. 

The entry-level takes its power from a 71 kWh battery and is rated with a range of 347 km (215 miles) under WLTP. The electric motors develop 308 hp and 540 Nm of torque, for a 0 - 62 mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 190 kph (118 mph).

The more powerful 55 quattro uses a bigger battery, which at 95 kWh is good for about 446 km (277 miles). Usually, the electric motors develop 355 hp and 561 Nm of torque, but by using the available boost mode function, output can be increased to 402 hp and 664 Nm of torque, even if for a limited time of just 8 seconds.

For the 55, acceleration time was measured at 6.6 seconds (6.5 in boost mode), while the top speed is limited to 200 kph (124 mph).

It the U.S. only the more powerful version is available, with the range dropping under EPA estimates to just 218 miles. The electric motors on the car give it all-wheel drive capabilities and develop a combined 355 horsepower (402 hp when the Boost Mode is engaged), and the battery can be recharged from a 150 kW station for 174 miles in 30 minutes.

5Safety

Aside for being cool gadgets, the digital matrix LED lights also help keep the e-tron passengers safe. They do this by helping the driver stay centered in the lane via visual displays that go as far as showing the position of the car in the lane. 

The Sportback has a low center of gravity thanks to the low positioning of its components, Additionally, the car’s height can be varied for up to 76 mm.

The e-tron uses progressive steering to help reduce the effort required for low-speed maneuvering, an electrohydraulic brake system, and top of the range suspension. Complementing them are a variety of assist packages that offer all of today’s

6Conclusion

Audi will not waste much time with the Sportback off the shelves, and it will begin taking orders for it by the end of November 2019. On the European market, the entry-level will retail from € 71,350.